Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Roundabouts and Traffic Control

I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out...
YES (1972)

What I liked about the article this morning on roundabouts is that it recognized that higher density is part of the underlying problem with in-city traffic in Santa Barbara.

Opponent of roundabouts Michael Self says:
"The purpose of doing this is not to calm traffic -- police control could do that quite well,"..."It is done to get us out of our cars. If you want people out of their cars, you need to build a transit system."

It is put more bluntly by Scott Wenz in the same article:
"They are street obstructions intended to stop people from using their cars."

I'm not so sure police control can do that as as there just aren't enough public safety employees to cover the city all the time -- no matter how many you have. What about a transit system? -- we have one. What would get people to use it more? $8.00 a gallon for gas?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

increasing density is the problem and it will only get worse; the geography of Santa Barbara allows only so much carrying capacity before we're overwhelmed and bandaid fixes like roundabouts are tried; as long as the developers and their apologists keep trying to spin density as some innocuous if not exalted inevitability, and the rest of us stay quiet for fear of being smeared, we're going to witness a worsening of the traffic nightmare and all its attendant byproducts. Quality of life? not so much.

12/28/2005 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What could get people to use the transit system more? Simple: more buses, more often --- and also a bit more publicity as to the routes.

Sure, there's a schedule befitting a major transit system, but what is needed is a schedule befitting what is presently a tiny system. That is, one easy to read and how about have it more available, maybe even online in a search format, as, eg. Google.

Also: it would be helpful if the bus stops weren't stations for the homeless --- I live near the Milpas Post Office. There the two stops are always gathering places for drunks and panhandlers (and some simply disabled). I do not/will not hang out there waiting for a bus, but hop into my car.

Obviously, the seats are available for all; equally, those without homes, except the nearby casa esperansa, have an equal right to those seats and I respect that; but equally obviously, I don't have to put up with the situation, the reek, being propositioned, hit up on, etc.

Once the parking rates go up - again - I will go downtown less frequently. But if the buses were more frequent, going more places (perhaps smaller buses, instead of those mega buses which seem hardly ever to be full).

PS - I like the Milpas round-about; really seems to speed up traffic. but maybe there should be a section in the DMV book on getting your license about who has the right of way; never seen such often arrogant and stupid people, insisting they're right - when they're wrong, that is, their right of way........

-- thanks for the question.

12/28/2005 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, thank you for taking the time to frame a critical question confronting our community, rather than descending into the usual attack mode. The answers above are a great start to a real dialogue on this blog. Your extra effort is appreciated and the community will be rewarded.

The recent Community Economic Project survey asked residents a number of questions about using the local transit system. I'm sure it's available on-line. The survey had some limitations in that it covered so many other topics as to be a "mile wide and an inch deep" in places. I recall, regarding your question, the survey said residents wouldn't take the bus even if it was FREE. The overwhelming characteristic they were seeking was convenience. The bus had to practically come to their door, and often.

It seems to come down to the value of time vs money, as so many things do. (Look at the convenience food industry.) For many it's cheaper to drive than walk to and from the stops and then wait forever for the bus. The value of one's time is easy to calculate while waiting for the bus, particularly for those lucky enough to get paid more for working than the savings gained by taking mass transit. We need to get on the bus, but the micro economics are going to have to change. It will take a combination of $8.00 (or more) gas (which will eventually happen since it's a finite resource); plus more public investment in convenient mass transit like more buses, more stops and longer hours (to decrease the transit times); plus other economic incentives and cost and time savings.

12/28/2005 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

many people have jobs which require them to be transported to different meetings throughout the week--some in town, some throughout the county and to allow them some flexibility; and increasingly those employers do not provide the vehicles; many jobs can hardly get done in eight hours let alone the added travel time that waiting for buses or walking from and to meeting places and the bus stops allow. bottom line---people want & need their cars, for the most part, in those types of work situations. They will make concessions in other areas---not driving out of town for recreation as much, to allow for the increased fuel costs. Government can and should mandate only so much when it comes to people's lifestyles. Scary to think otherwise.

12/28/2005 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at Europe. Gas is much more expensive and over time larger public investments have been made in mass transit, which work well. Same for many of our larger cities in the east. Here, diverting a fair portion of the massive amount of tax money from roads into mass transit would benefit most of us in many ways that aren't obvious currently. That's why Measure D should only be approved with clear allocations of a large percentage of funds to mass transit. It will interesting to see what SBCAG is capable of...

12/28/2005 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The purpose of the roundabouts is to reduce the number of fatal and major accidents that occur from people running lights, thinking they have the right of way, etc. They are capable of being used for traffic calming but it depends on the size of the intersection, the neighborhood, what major employment centers or destinations are on the route in question etc. What works at Milpas does not neccessarily work at Stanley Drive or Olive Street. City Staff needs to recognize that roundabouts are not always the answer.

12/28/2005 1:01 PM  

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